Published: 25 July 2013
Report: Scott Hobro
Video: Simon Powers
Great Britain’s Liam Phillips wants to go ‘one step better’ than the silver he won last year and collect his first rainbow jersey at the 2013 UCI BMX World Championships.
The 24-year-old was denied a world title in the time trial Superfinal in the 2012 championships in Birmingham when American Connor Fields eclipsed his effort in Birmingham’s National Indoor Arena.
Phillips settled for silver but then crashed out of the supercross racing with a fractured collarbone, hampering his preparations for the London Olympics, where he subsequently reached the final.
With a further two coveted rainbow jerseys on offer in Auckland, New Zealand, Phillips is eager to produce at the pinnacle of his 2013 season.
“I’m really excited, the world champs is obviously the highlight of every year, the Olympics is the only thing that overshadows that,” Phillips said.
“It’s been right at the top of my aims from the end of last year so I’m excited to get out there and I’m quite confident to be able to go there and ride my bike well and hopefully put in a good performance.
“The time trial is usually a form of qualification for us but when there’s a rainbow jersey on the line you definitely want to make the Superfinal and come away with the best result possible.
“Connor (Fields) ended up running away with it in the end but after myself there were quite a few riders that were very close but hopefully this year I can go one step better.”
The British Cycling Olympic Podium Programme rider has endured a varied 2013 in the UCI BMX Supercross series.
Phillips, a Beijing and London Olympian, won his first ever event in the competition on home turf in the opening Manchester round on an indoor track upon which the Great Britain team train.
Ensuing rounds on outdoor tracks in Santiago del Estero and Papendal, venues which Phillips concedes don’t suit his strengths, saw exits in the quarter and semi finals respectively but at the Vector Arena he will return to his favoured indoor environment.
“I have proven over the last few years that the indoor racing certainly is a strong point for me,” Phillips said.
“It’s what I know, the environment is controlled, I guess the tracks are tighter and I guess the strength of my race is my start and to the bottom of the ramp. In the indoor racing that is far more crucial than if you are racing outdoors on a big open track.
“I’m confident that I’m going to be able to go there and put a solid performance together. I think my form has been good all year, I don’t think my form has dropped since the Manchester world cup, hopefully travelling all the way to New Zealand I’m going be able to put a good ride together.”
Olympic champion Māris Štrombergs along with world champions Sam Willoughby and Connor Fields have all been confirmed to race.
Apart from time trial champion Fields, neither Strombergs or Willoughby as well as number of high profile riders have competed at all three UCI Supercross events in the season so far.
But Phillips doesn’t envisage his extra competitive time translating into a huge gain over his rivals.
“I don’t think competing at those races is going to give me too much of an advantage but the fact that we can train indoor every day of the year, that’s huge,” Phillips said in reference to Manchester’s National BMX Centre.
“It was something we spoke about after the Olympics. My key objective was the world championships and to go into that race with the best chance possible of being successful I needed to train in that environment.
“There were other options to potentially go and race abroad and race the US circuit.
“But ultimately the world champs is high on my priority list and if I can train in Manchester and put myself in the best shape possible ahead of that race then that’s what I was going to do.”